Do boxers possess a magical ability to jump rope? No, but it would seem that way.
Watch a fighter jump rope, and you’ll see him gracefully bounce from leg to leg with impeccable timing and at lightning speeds.
They all seem to be gifted with supreme athleticism and natural talent.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
They stumble, fall, and snag and stub their toes in the learning process – just like everyone else.
However, being able to jump rope is almost a rite of passage for a boxer. They practice and persevere as they know how beneficial jumping rope is for their training.
Surely there are a dozen other exercises that could replace jump rope that are just as effective? Besides, skipping is for little girls, right?
Why Do Boxers Jump Rope?
You’re probably well aware of the health and fitness benefits of jumping rope. However, here’s a quick summary:
- Improves hand-eye coordination
- Increases Agility
- Works your cardiovascular system and builds stamina
- Fantastic for weight loss. Jumping rope can burn ten calories a minute.
And it’s not just pugilists that can benefit from jumping rope. It’s a great cross-training exercise for many sports, as the finesse and improved control over your fine motor skills is transferable across disciplines.
But since your reading a boxing blog, my guess is you want to know precisely how jumping rope relates to boxing skill development.
Firstly, jumping rope integrates well with boxing training. Varying the pace and type of jump means that jumping rope can be used as both a gentle warm-up, and as part of a lung-busting cardio workout. It’s the perfect stamina-building filler between “rests” when you’re doing rounds on the bag or pads.
It’s also a great indoor exercise when you need to give your lungs a good thrashing and weather conditions mean roadwork is out of the question.
Speaking of stamina, jumping rope will help improve your fitness and also build endurance in the leg muscles, which is vital if you need to “go the distance” in a fight.
However, the greatest benefit is not surprisingly offered to the most used muscle when jumping rope; the calves.
Jumping rope develops the fast-twitch muscle fibers in the calves that are necessary for quick footwork.
It leads to becoming a fast and responsive fighter able to get in and out quickly.
Stick and move is the name of the game. You want to get in fast, land your punches, then get the hell out before taking any damage.
You want to leave your opponent guessing; “WTF just happened?!?”
Learn to Jump Rope in 4 Easy Steps
Jump rope is all about timing.
Focus on performing a tiny jump each time you hear the rope smack the ground.
Beginners can practice this (without getting tangled) by holding both handles in one hand and spinning the rope in a circle at their side. When you hear the rope hit the ground, either jump with both feet or hop from leg to leg.
Once you find your rhythm, here’re the four simple steps to jump rope.
- Starting position: Hole the handles with your wrists facing upward and the rope behind you.
- Rotate your forearms and wrists and flick the rope in front of you.
- Perform a small jump with both feet as the rope smacks the ground.
- Keep the rope rotating and perform one jump each time you hear the rope hit the ground.
Here’s a short video that breaks down the technique into simple movements.
7 Tips to Jump Rope Like a Boxer
Now you’ve learned the basic movements, know that it’s going to take time to skip like a pro.
To shorten the learning curve, here are our top tips for jumping rope:
1. Use the Right Length Jump Rope
Before you even attempt to jump rope, you need to make sure it’s the right length.
Test the fit by putting your foot in the middle of the rope and pulling the handles to your sternum. The handles should reach your armpits if the rope’s the right size.
Tip: If the rope is too long, you can shorten the length by tying a knot near the handles.
2. Small Bounce
Many beginners jump high to ensure they clear the rope. Wrong! You don’t need to jump high if you time your jump correctly.
Speed and efficiency are achieved by mastering the tiny bounce. At the peak of your jump, you should only be 1/4-1/2 inch off the ground. This will help you skip faster, use less energy, and will also lessen the impact on your knees.
3. Don’t Double Bounce
Beginner mistake number two is doing two jumps for every rope rotation. They do one larger bounce to jump over the rope, and another smaller bounce to keep rhythm.
Don’t make this mistake! It’s inefficient and will slow down your jump rope speed.
4. Jump On the Balls of Your Feet
Your heels should NEVER touch the ground.
Unless you’re doing some fancy, heel-toe skipping, you should be on the balls of your feet at all times.
Don’t be flat-footed and give your calves the punishment they deserve.
5. Training Surface Matters
The surface you train on can affect your performance and how the rope reacts.
Suspended wood floors are best. Not only do they offer a solid surface with good friction properties, but they are also better for your joints.
Stay off carpets as you’ll have to jump higher which will mess with your timing when you train on harder surfaces.
6. Stick to Your Rhythm
The easiest way to master jumping rope is to find your natural rhythm and stick with it.
But what does this mean exactly?
Well, we each have a pace that is comfortable for us. It may be faster or slower than your training buddies. It doesn’t matter. Settle into a speed that’s comfortable and you can work on getting faster in time.
7. It’s All in the Wrists
Jumping rope is all about rotating your wrists. If you’re rotating your arms and shoulders, you’re doing it wrong.
But to be able to spin the rope using only your wrists, you have to hold the rope correctly. Your arms should be bent at the elbows and your hands should be just above your waist and about a foot to the side.
Main Image: Flickr / Downtown Boxing